Close the books. It's over. It's official. After 13 seasons, Brian Urlacher has retired. Called it quits. Hung it up. He did so this morning, releasing a statement through his Twitter account. Here it is:
And so that's that, folks. There will be no Brian Urlacher sightings at Winter Park. He will not wear purple.
Urlacher never made much sense as the Vikings' 2013 option at middle linebacker. Sure, there were rumors early on in free agency that the Vikings were keeping a pulse on Urlacher's situation. Yet when the star linebacker's negotiations with Chicago, where he was a standout starter since 2000, fell through, the Vikings didn't exactly hold a party to pool funds together in a hurried effort to sign him.
We tried to tell you the reasons why. Urlacher will turn 35 this coming Saturday. He missed the final four games of 2012 with a hamstring problem. His burst and explosion isn't what it once was. And, at best, he would have been a one-season Band-Aid on the position for the Vikings, who are far more determined these days to seek out long-term answers, looking to identify and develop quality players as opposed to pulling old ones off the free agency scrap heap.
So, yeah. Even with the Vikings' holes at the position, we never took the Urlacher chatter very seriously.
Still, that didn't stop the "Urlacher could soon be a Viking" rumors from swirling off and on for more than two months.
And last week, when a Chicago Sun-Times gossip columnist cited an anonymous source close to Urlacher saying that the linebacker might soon be a Viking, reckless bloggers ran wild with the unsubstantiated rumor. (Why wouldn't they? In today's world of journalism -- especially in the NFL -- sexy headlines and Web clicks have begun to take on far greater value than, well, ya know, actual truth.)
Not long after last week's Urlacher chatter escalated, Vikings coach Leslie Frazier appeared on the NFL Network and said his team wasn't considering the longtime Bears star as an option at middle linebacker, instead intending to give Erin Henderson a look there -- maybe Audie Cole and Tyrone McKenzie too -- while also figuring out the potential roles for rookies Gerald Hodges and Michael Mauti.
Yet even with Frazier's assertions, too many folks clung to the fact that Frazier said Urlacher wasn't an option "at this point," three words that allowed folks to run wild with their imaginations and created another rush for stories across the internet.
Even today, with Urlacher announcing his retirement in no uncertain terms, the conspiracy theorists are already forecasting an Favre-esque return to pro football from Urlacher later this summer. Go wild with that theory if you want. Us? We're burying the story.
Repeat it with us five times: Urlacher is retired and won't be a Viking. Urlacher is retired and won't be a Viking. Urlacher is retired and won't be a Viking. Urlacher is retired and won't be a Viking. Urlacher is retired and won't be a Viking.
That felt good didn't it?